Research Fellows Directory
Dr Vincent Eke
University of Durham
My research lies in two distinct areas: 1) computational modelling of the formation of galaxies, in order to constrain the properties of dark matter, and 2) image reconstruction of satellite data to help make maps of the distribution of hydrogen on the Moon and Mars.
1) By using many millions of particles to represent the material in a model universe, one can start from a reasonably smooth distribution of mass, such as should have been present just after the Big Bang, and to evolve this model universe forward to see if it contains galaxies like those detected in our Universe. Changing the contents of the model, such as the amount or type of dark matter and dark energy changes the properties of the model galaxies that form. By comparing with observed galaxies, we can constrain the amount and properties of the dark matter and dark energy.
2) The Moon emits neutrons that are knocked out of atoms in the top metre of the lunar surface by very energetic particles that permeate our galaxy. Unlike the Earth, the Moon has no atmosphere to protect it from these particles. The energies of the emitted neutrons depend upon the elements present in the lunar surface. Thus, by sending a neutron detector to orbit the Moon, we can make maps of the abundance of various elements. Image reconstruction techniques involve removing the blurring introduced by the detector, to give more detailed elemental maps. I have developed such an algorithm that, when applied to neutron data collected by NASA's Lunar Prospector, provided the most detailed maps of lunar hydrogen deposits. This is important because hydrogen is a constituent of water, and the distribution of lunar water provides clues as to the origin of lunar water, which has a bearing on our understanding of the evolution of the inner solar system. These hydrogen maps were used by NASA scientists when they were deciding where to crash their LCROSS mission in the successful search for water on the Moon.